Innoko National Wildlife Refuge

Quick Facts

Innoko National Wildlife Refuge

Alaska

(907) 524-3251

Map Directions

Things To Do

     

Overview

Remote and isolated even by Alaska standards, the Innoko National Wildlife Refuge is one of the most important waterfowl areas in West Central Interior Alaska. It was established by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980. Conservation of fish and wildlife populations and habitats in their natural diversity is a focus of the refuge. Innoko National Wildlife Refuge can be roughly divided into two distinct habitat types. Approximately half of the refuge consists of black spruce muskeg, wet meadows, and sedge or horsetail marshes, set with innumerable lakes and ponds of varying size. The rest of the terrain is marked by hills, most of which are less than one thousand feet in elevation. The refuge covers some 3.8 million acres, with its 1.2 million-acres of designated Wilderness found in the south-east, bordered by the Innoko River on its western boundary and including portions of the Iditarod and Big and Little Yetna Rivers. Given the extensive wetlands contained within the refuge, it's not surprising that Innoko is blessed with a wealth of avian life. It's estimated that 130 species of birds use these lands, and that more than 300,000 waterfowl and shorebirds nest on the refuge every spring. Frequent flooding of Innoko's many rivers and streams helps fertilize surrounding soils and maintain the rich willow sandbar habitat that provides winter food for the refuge's moose population, as well as for the beaver that are common along virtually all of Innoko's waterways. Barren ground caribou from the Beaver Mountain Herd winter on Innoko when deep snows move them down from the uplands, while both black and grizzly bear and wolves are present year around. Other fur-bearers include marten, lynx, red fox, river otter and wolverine.

Map of Innoko NWR

Latitude, Longitude: 63.191541, -158.664551

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Activities

  • Boating

    One of the most enjoyable and practical ways to visit and see the vast Innoko Refuge is by floating down the Innoko, Iditarod, or Dishna Rivers. There are no roads to or on the refuge, therefore float tripper's must plan to fly their boats and gear to the upstream reach of the proposed trip and most often plan to be picked up somewhere downstream.

  • Fishing

    The Innoko River and its vast number of connected lakes provide habitat for large and aggressive northern pike. These fish range in size to over 45 inches. Some people say the next Alaska State trophy northern pike will come from the Innoko River system. Additionally, whitefish, grayling and incidental salmon are taken from the waters of the Innoko River.

  • Hunting

    Innoko Refuge is home to a healthy population of moose; hunters come from around the State, USA and other countries for a chance at one of these trophy animals. Access to the refuge is by private aircraft, equipped for water landings, or by boat. Commercial access is provided by hunting guides and air taxi operators who have a permit to operate on the refuge.

Seasonality/Weather

Weather can change quickly so be prepared for rain and cold temperatures. Bitting insects are an ever present item during the summer months.

Directions

Driving

The Innoko NWR is not accessible by car.

Flying

Access is by means of airplanes equipped for water landings during spring, summer and fall. Due to its extremely remote and isolated location, access to the refuge by watercraft is, in most cases, not practical. Watercraft transportable by small aircraft, such as inflatable rafts and folding kayaks, can be used for transportation within the refuge. The primary means of access include privately owned aircraft, commercial guiding and outfitting services, and commercial air taxi operators. Access is via the village of McGrath, which is served by commercial airlines operating out of Anchorage.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(907) 524-3251

Links